The Biden administration approved a Trump-era project to complete a section of a southern border wall in California.
Advocates from Friends of Friendship Park told KPBS that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said that the primary and secondary border fences along the park will be replaced with 30-foot walls.
The park, a binational spot between San Diego and Tijuana, represents the western-most point of the U.S. along the border with Mexico. It has been the only place along the southern border where people in the U.S. could see and even touch relatives in Mexico.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas approved the designs, which were initially authorized by the Trump administration in the budget for Fiscal Year 2018, the Daily Mail reported.
CBP emailed KPBS and confirmed plans to build new fencing in the area around Friendship Park, saying the current fencing is no longer structurally sound.
The project will replace and further extend existing barriers with two walls that began being added during the Trump administration.
The new wall designs do not include a pedestrian gate, said Rev. John Fanestil of The Border Church.
"This latest announcement really amounts to the complete desecration of this historic location," said Fanestil, a longtime Friendship Park advocate. "We believe that the Biden administration should not be putting the finishing touches on Donald Trump's border wall at Friendship Park."
CBP in February 2020 blocked access to Friendship Park, which is accessible by walking through Border Field State Park. Heavy rains that year forced state officials to temporarily close Border Field State Park.
"We were kind of under the illusion that when Border Field State Park was going to reopen, they were going to reopen Friendship Park as well," Rev. Seth Clark told KPBS. "But that has not happened."
Although Biden took office and immediately signed an executive order halting all border wall construction, his administration has approved projects at multiple locations along the border, the Daily Mail said.
The administration insists the construction is to "replace" existing walls, despite using Trump-era designs.
CBP statistics showed that 239,416 migrants were encountered at the southern border in May – the fourth straight month of increasing encounters.
Nearly 2 million migrants have been released into the U.S. under Biden, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
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